The genus Cirsium includes species with both widespread and restricted geographical distributions, several of which are serious weeds. Nine polymorphic microsatellite loci were isolated from the stemless thistle Cirsium acaule. Eight were polymorphic in C. acaule, six in C. arvense and seven in C. heterophyllum. One locus monomorphic in C. acaule showed polymorphism in C. heterophyllum. The mean number of alleles per locus was 4.1 in C. acaule, 6.2 in C. arvense and 2.9 in C. heterophyllum. These nine loci were also amplified in C. eriophorum and C. vulgare, suggesting that these markers may be of use throughout the genus
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